Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage

On the day we received some really bad news, and we were luckily in the vicinity of Antipolo City to bring Ma and Dad to one of their regular acupuncture sessions, what better way to while away the time than to praise and beg for indulgence. So off we went to the Antipolo Church, abode of the Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage. We lit candles for the intention of our special friend who at the time was battling for her life. While we knew the Lord heard us, through Our Lady’s intercession, He has better plans for her, her family and our friends.

And since we were already there, we again asked for the cover of His protection every time we travel.

Trek up north

Today, we go on vacation that isn’t the beach or Tagaytay, or our hometowns. Hooray! It’s also the first time the husband drove that long. I would have traded seats with him but I haven’t got the hang of driving the new car so it’s just him.

The first order of the day was a spur of the moment, but totally worth it visit to Our Lady of Manaoag. Wouldn’t pass up the chance to pay our respects and say our prayers. I know that many other religions or cults have bashed Catholics for praying in front of statues of the Blessed Virgin Mary or saints. We don’t actually pay homage to the physical things, but we believe deep in our hearts that we can pray anywhere with or without the representations in front of us. We believe in their intercession, and I for one, believe in living Christ’s teachings and emulating the godly life of saints. Ours is more of faith rather than literal interpretation of what is written in books.

Ian Loves Lucy

This post is so late as this happened on the first Saturday of February. Anyhow, gosh, I am officially a wedding sponsor material. Gone are my bridesmaids days. Sheesh. This makes me feel old more than anything.

But still, I am honored because these two “kids” were my juniors at work before, and I would like to think that I have imparted something good to them and their relationship. I was even more touched that out of their five ninangs, I was chosen to deliver the inspirational message.

So best wishes, my first inaanaks! I will always be here for you.

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Pope fever

The Pope Francis fever gripped the Philippines during the last weekend. The minute the smiling, energetic and charismatic leader of the Roman Catholic Church decided to come to typhoon-ravaged Philippines, the government and the Church mounted massive preparations for his “apostolic” journey to the country. All came into fruition when millions of Filipino devotees flocked to the streets of Metro Manila to catch a glimpse of him, in the process catching the blessings of the vicar of Jesus Christ.

I was not as fortunate as I was twenty years, when, as a fifteen year old, I was sent as a delegate of the World Youth Day in the presence of then Pope John Paul II. Young as I was, but raised as a practicing Catholic both at home and in school, I was mesmerized by the presence of this father figure. That less than 5-second, 1-meter encounter as his popemobile passed by my spot in front of Baclaran Church gave me an indescribable feeling that I could only assume as awe. Too bad I wasn’t able to capture that moment for smartphones were yet to make their appearance in every hand and pocket. Looking back though, I could say that I am glad because I got to see him in person, not just on the screen on a phone, which was what happened during Pope Francis’ visit over the weekend.

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Now, twenty years after that papal visit, I am older and hopefully wiser. Despite the desire to see him, the husband and I chose to stay with the kids at home and follow his visit on TV for four days. I still got that feeling of excitement and enchantment despite looking at the Pope on an LCD screen instead of in person. Both popes exude that aura of holiness, like it was Christ himself you are looking at, and it was like a personal encounter. It gives you renewed hope, and his words provide you fuel and strength. I, along with millions of believers, am beyond elated that His Holiness chose to visit and be with Filipinos. His words are simple yet profound and powerful. He was not at all preachy, which made it easy to listen to him with your heart open.

Maybe I’ll see him in person next time. In Manila or if God permits, at the Vatican. I had crossed off the Holy Land from my bucket list, maybe I’ll get lucky again.

A fulfilled Christmas

Merry Christmas from this cutie patootie who is spending her first Christmas!

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And from the rest of my family. As always, it was a quiet event in our side of the world. My brother spent Christmas Eve dinner with us but left right away for work commitments. Went to mass the next day, which was also Maxine’s first. Too bad my dad was a little under the weather but thank God he got better as the day wore on.

Happy and peaceful would describe this special day. Happy birthday Papa Jesus! You are the reason for this season.

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Middle East series: Abu Dhabi

While both are Arab countries, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are worlds apart. Saudi is steeped in tradition, UAE on the other hand is almost as modern as the West. Being a relatively open country, especially Abu Dhabi and Dubai, its locals have also somehow adapted to the ways of life of the expats it is trying to beckon albeit still keeping its own norms alive.

My first “home” in the UAE is Abu Dhabi. Being the capital city, one can feel the power that it wields as it hosts most government offices and big businesses. Tall and sleek buildings adorn its wide boulevards, alongside powerful mosques. We landed at night time, and despite the lateness of the hour, the city was throbbing with vibrancy. Also, much like the huge urban places I’ve been to, it is teeming with huge malls that would the shopaholic’s heart skip a beat.

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Of course, as it is the main purpose of our visit to the Middle East, we inspected the Philippine schools here. And again, I will save my boring official report for the office, and stick to blogging the more fun parts of the travel hehe.

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Our office is also co-convening the Regional Summit in the Middle East, a brand of our Global Summit, which we have first introduced in Rome, Italy, where the husband went in 2012, and are now bringing to Abu Dhabi later this year. Since we are in the preparatory stages, we met with Philippine Ambassador Grace Princesa and the Bayanihan Council, an umbrella organization of Filipino associations in the UAE.

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And conducted an ocular inspection of the summit’s venue, the Dusit Thani Hotel.

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We had another meeting with other Filipino groups, this time, at the Ambassador’s residence called Maharlika House. The place was a showcase of abaca, a local plant from which cloth, furniture and other products are produced.

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Was also elated to have been able to hear mass in Filipino. Yay! Due to the large number of Filipinos and Catholics at that, they were given a special time and place to have masses in one of the big churches there. Several times that evening, I lost my head for a while and forgot that I was out of the Philippines. Out of the thousands that attended mass, I think I only saw about a handful of foreigners there. Very cool.

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The hotel we stayed in, though, was quite forgettable. It was so-so. The Embassy booked us there, and while we had a bigger budget, it was not a good idea to ask for a higher star hotel as we were supposed to be prudent since we are part of the government. But still, it would have been nice to have stayed in a newer and a bit swankier joint than the Ramee Apartments. I would have loved to experience more than threadbare sheets and dim lights. I guess I should just be thankful that the place was clean enough, and they had wifi, even if only in the table nearest the door. And that it was just a stone’s throw away from the Al-Wahda Mall, other discount stores for pasalubong, and restaurants.